Debtor Has No Right to Information About Creditor’s Estate

On April 1, 2011, Norman Webb lent $150,000 to his then son-in-law, Dan Krudys. The loan was for a term of four years and was memorialized by a promissory note executed by Krudys. In the next four years, Norman died, Krudys and Norman’s daughter, Cheryl divorced, Krudys defaulted on the note and Norman’s son, Scott, as Executor of Norman’s Estate filed suit against Krudys for the outstanding balance of $111,711.

After filing his response to the Complaint, Krudys asked the Estate whether a portion of the inheritance attributed to Cheryl was used to repay the note. After the Estate replied that it was not repaid, Krudys submitted discovery requests to the Estate seeking to know, among other inquires, the identity of the estate beneficiaries, whether beneficiaries of the estate received their share, and the amount of each share.

In Webb v. Krudys (Civ. No. 15-5247),the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey upheld the denial of these requests. It did so on two grounds. First, it noted that a beneficiary of an estate (in this case, Cheryl) was not a party to an action brought by the estate. Second, it found the discovery requests to be either overbroad or irrelevant.

In this day and age, such a ruling can be appreciated. In this era of social media and its resultant disrespect for boundaries, it is encouraging to see a court respect the privacy of individuals. Although proper discovery should always be afforded in litigation, one would hope that the tone of the District Court’s ruling should be followed by other jurists in affording discretion when warranted.

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